Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Description Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that uses radio waves to identify objects and read data. Windshield tags that pay tolls, security tags for apparel and identity cards that permit access to restricted areas are three common applications. RFID tags consist of an electronic device—no larger than a pinhead—containing an antenna and a chip. Like their precursor, bar codes, they're often employed to track and manage inventory and works in progress. But not only are RFID tags smaller, hardier, and cheaper, they can carry far richer amounts of data. Wireless scanners can read them at a distance, without a direct line of sight, and download detailed information on entire pallets of products from them instantaneously. Paired with sensors, these so-called smart tags can even be used to automatically monitor items' temperature, pressure and other conditions. Methodology Implementing RFID involves these steps:
Determine which products or processes are suited for this technology. Factors to consider include the type of data to be encoded, required read range, frequency of measurements, and environmental constraints. RFID is particularly compelling if read and write capabilities are required, the tag is hidden, surface contamination is likely, or reading multiple tags simultaneously is necessary;
Choose the timing and pace for RFID adoption, given the costs, benefits and customer mandates. Also evaluate the cost of not adopting RFID;
Select the appropriate RFID standard and the level of integration desired with the supply chain management software;
Roll out a pilot program, starting with the highest-value products first. Expand implementation of RFID based on customer mandates, and as cost and benefits warrant expanding the program.Common uses RFID can be used to:
Streamline the flow of products through the supply chain, thus reducing overall inventory levels and working capital;
Decrease the time and expense of managing inventory, while improving the efficiency of shipping, receiving and order processing;
Reduce labor costs, product tampering and theft;
Improve forecasting and invoicing accuracy;
Track parts, finished goods, and reusable containers through manufacturing and assembly processes;
Ensure that production procedures are followed and pinpoint the source of production issues;
Remotely monitor the conditions of components, products and equipment;
Increase security and control access when placed on personnel badges.

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